Fench Lentil Soup

French Lentil Soup
Let me preface this by saying that I have never ordered lentil soup at a restaurant nor have I really had a good version from a can.  Annabel Karmel’s First Foods introduced me to lentils when I was madly making mini lentil cakes for my son.  They are absolutely delicious and I’m sure everyone can’t wait until Baby W gets old enough for them to go back into the rotation.  Logic follows that if lentils are delicious in cakes, they would be delicious in a soup. 
After some cookbook and internet research, I discovered that of the 3 kinds of bulk lentils that I had purchased, only one was soup-worthy.  The others would disintegrate.  The winning lentil was the French green. 
After a rinse, a pick-over, and a cross-reference between Epicurious.com and Cooks Illustrated, I made every effort to follow the spirit of the traditional recipes with a few changes.  The key ingredients that I would not have added off the cuff were diced tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.   These sound like a strange addition, but disappeared completely in the final product and only imparted a slight acidity.           
The other odd-ball thing in the recipes was to puree a portion of it.  If other types of lentils disintegrate, why not use them to make it heartier instead of dirtying another utensil.  I went ahead with it because I was trying out a smoked sausage that I hadn’t tasted before.  The idea being that I could cook the sausage in the smaller portion of the soup and if it was awful, not ruin the entire batch.  2 dirty pots and a dirty emersion blender later, sausage tasted fine and we added the heartiness.  I doubt I’ll do it in the future because it ends up with a chili-like heaviness and I wanted something more delicate.  The smokiness could have had that effect as well.
French Lentil Soup
slices bacon (only if you’re not using sausage)
large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
medium carrots , peeled and chopped medium (about 1 cup)
medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
bay leaf
teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
cup lentils (7 ounces), rinsed and picked over
teaspoon table salt
ground black pepper
cup dry white wine
cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade stock but would save the stock for something that’s not going to compete with bacon next time)
cups water
cup diced smoked sausage
teaspoons balsamic vinegar
tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
INSTRUCTIONS [adapted from Cooks Illustrated]
1.     1.  Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.
2.     2.  Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. Add chicken broth and water; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.
3.    3.   Add sausage if using and simmer 10-15 minutes more to heat through.
4.     4.  Puree 3 cups soup with emersion blender until smooth, then return to pot; stir in vinegar and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes. Add Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of remaining parsley.


One thought on “Fench Lentil Soup

  1. I'm about to try Gourmet's Lentil Soup with Sausage and Escarole (Thursday night)… I bought the only lentils that HEB had… hope they hold up!This recipe sounds delicious too!

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